Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Tribute to My Father on His 90th

I was a daddy's girl growing up. My daddy was the biggest, strongest, handsomest man who ever lived. He made the best mayonnaise sandwiches in the world on soft white Sunbeam bread. He'd glob it on until it squished out the sides when I bit into it. My mouth sometimes waters when I think about those sandwiches, sandwiches I don't eat anymore.

I remember watching Gillette's Friday Night Fights (I think that was its name) with my dad until I got sleepy and fell asleep with my head on his knee. Sometimes, when I was really small, I would use his legs as a slide. I'd ride on his shoulders and get the best view of everything. When I think back on it, I know I felt like the Queen of the World to borrow from that famous "Titanic" line.

As a teen-ager, I remember my dad leaning on a car window, shirtless because he had been working in the garden, introducing himself to the mother of a boy who was taking me to the 8th grade dance. That time I was mortified. Today, I smile and think how truly guileless my dad was.

When I was 15, I had to have surgery to correct a birth defect that caused my knee cap to go out of place and travel around the back of my leg. Yes, it was as horrible as it sounds and didn't show up until I was around 12. The surgery went well, but a staph infection set in. I was very very ill. I almost lost my leg, really my life. One night, I awoke to find my daddy sitting very close to my hospital bed. His head was resting on the bed and he appeared to be asleep. As I put my hand on his hair, I told him that I loved him. He said in his deep East Tennessee drawl, "I love you too, daughter. I love you, too." It was a most precious moment.

My dad had been an Air Force career man, retiring as as Major. He was always so handsome in his uniform. When he retired at the young age of 37, he went on to work for the Post Office for another 20 years. I think he always regretted leaving the military. I learned later that he did it for his children so that they would have a more stable life. That was quite a sacrifice, leaving something that he loved doing. He loved his children more. Secretly, I missed the Air Force as much as him

When I was in college, I'd sometimes ride a bus to Knoxville where we had settled after the Air Force and Dad would meet me at the bus stop. We had a ritual of going to the Krispy Kreme doughnut place and getting a dozen chocolate covered doughnuts warm, coming off the conveyor belt. We'd drive all over Knoxville, talking and munching on that box of doughnuts. Sometimes we'd take a doughnut each home to my mom and brother. They weren't as appreciative as we thought they should have been.

Daddy was an extraordinary guitarist and musician. He could play all kinds of musical instruments, but his favorite was the tenor guitar. He had a specially made Martin that he treated as a work of art. After retiring from the Air Force and moving to Knoxville, he teamed once again with his brother, my Uncle Otha and they became the Emert Brothers. They performed the music of their heritage and youth, mountain music, bluesy and sweet...sad songs of lost love or lively tunes that was foot stomping inspiring. I so loved to listen and watch him and his brother perform and later with his nephew George after Uncle Otha passed away. My dad's last performance was with his grandson, Heath, my oldest son at the Delmar Days Festival in Alabama. I was so proud of my son as he honored his grandfather by playing with him. It was a joy to watch them and listen.

On December 2, 2010 I lost this wonderful man I loved so much. Kidney cancer took him away from all of us who loved him. I remember sitting by his bed on the night before he died telling him it was okay for him to let go, to be at peace. He fought so to live. He suffered so much. He was the dearest man I've ever known, the bravest. My life was made all the better because he was my father.

So here's to Major Stanley George  Emert, Sr. on what would have been his 90th birthday His legacy will live on through his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and beyond. I know he's playing beautiful music among the stars.

8 comments:

bellesouth said...

What a loving tribute to a wonderful man. His love, talents and legacy live on forever in his family. Wish I had known him. Nan

Coleen Brooks said...

Thanks Nan. Our daddies were special men.

Ron Vick said...

This is nice. Thank you for sharing.

Amber Lanier Nagle said...

Such a nice tribute. The knee cap thing is weird.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Beautiful writing and touching tribute to your dad. He seemed to have a life well lived.

Stan Emert said...

What she said . . . Stan Jr.

Candie said...

This is beautiful, Ms. Coleen. Your children proudly carry on this zest for life, art and family - in their actions and "ways" and also just by sharing it. I found this post because Hayden posted it this morning on facebook, proud of your words and his grand-dad. Thank you to your daddy and to you for sharing your love and rich heritage.
~ Candie, a forever fan of the fam

peppylady (Dora) said...

Toward the end of each month I like to visit some different blogs then my usual one which is listed on left hand side...Called “Coffee drinkers”
Such a wonderful man your daddy...I do home care and one of my favor client is a lady who will be 90 this December and she such a jewel.
Hope you can fine the time to stop on in for some coffee.